“I hope His Holiness will visit Athos in 2016. I think it will most likely happen in spring. Of course, we will try to mark this wonderful date well,” head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, told reporters in Moscow on Thursday, responding to a question fromInterfax-Religion.
The metropolitan said preparations for the visit are being made and Russian monasteries on Athos are being rebuilt.
“A lot of renovation work has been done on Athos monasteries in the past few years. Additionally, we plan a series of events in Russia. They will be scientific symposiums and congresses of monks to mark this date well,” he said.
Patriarch Kirill visited Athos in June 2013 and, among other things, called for the rebuilding of the Xilurgu Monastery, the first Russian monastery on Mount Athos.
The metropolitan also said the patriarch plans to visit Istanbul for a meeting of the heads of local Orthodox Churches devoted to the preparations for the All-Orthodox Assembly. “It is expected to take place in January,” he said, adding that the preparations for the Assembly are far from being completed and its date is unknown.
The first Russian monastery on Athos was founded under Holy Prince Vladimir and was called the Monastery of Virgin the Xilurgu. It was first mentioned in writing in February 1016. This date is regarded as the beginning of Russian presence on Athos.